Former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda’s JD(S), which is allied with the Congress in Karnataka, on Thursday announced the candidature of Deve Gowda’s grandson and Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil Kumaraswamy from Mandya constituency for the Lok Sabha elections.
Nikhil, a 30-year-old actor, was unveiled as the candidate a day after the former PM announced the candidature of another grandson, Prajwal Revanna, 29, son of Karnataka PWD Minister H D Revanna, from Hassan constituency — Deve Gowda’s Lok Sabha constituency for several years — in an emotionally charged event where Deve Gowda, Prajwal Revanna, H D Revanna and other family members shed tears.
With the two announcements, a total of three members of the Deve Gowda family — including the 85-year-old himself — will be contesting the eight seats given to the JDS by the Congress in a deal clinched on Wednesday for the 28 Lok Sabha seats in Karnataka. Deve Gowda is expected to contest Bangalore North seat or Tumkur seat.
Both Mandya and Hassan seats, located in the heartland of the Vokkaliga community which considers Deve Gowda its patriarch — are considered safe seats for the JDS, which commands a huge support base in the region. The two seats were won by the JDS in 2009 and 2014. The two seats have, however, witnessed growing opposition to the candidature of Deve Gowda’s grandsons, especially from local Congress leaders who fear erosion of their support base if the Congress allows the JDS to have a free run in the region where the BJP is almost non-existent.
On Thursday ,after anointing Nikhil as Mandya candidate, the former PM called on JDS and Congress workers to work unitedly. “We must reduce the BJP to four or five seats (from the present 16),’’ he said.
Deve Gowda and other JDS leaders hinted that it was important for his grandsons to win the polls if the former PM was to have any clout in New Delhi. “My future is not in my hands. I am ageing, but I will say it is time to look at what I did when I was Prime Minister for 10 months,’’ Deve Gowda said. “No Prime Minister had gone to Kashmir for 10 years, but when I became PM I went with courage because I had the confidence of having worked for the welfare of Muslim citizens of this country,’’ he said, adding that the BJP has to be defeated because Dalits are stripped and beaten in public under the BJP’s watch in places like Gujarat.
Kumaraswamy said the people of Mandya would give his father a bigger voice in Delhi by electing Nikhil. “It will enable him to work with other parties in forming a new dispensation in Delhi,” the CM said.
Deve Gowda said he had decided to field Nikhil after he showed inclination to support his father when Kumaraswamy underwent two heart surgeries. “When his father fell ill, Nikhil said he would lend Kumaraswamy a hand in his political efforts and this commitment swayed my mind. We are not doing family politics,” he said.